University Senate Proposed;
President Lee Bollinger, the chairman called the Senate to order shortly after in 501 Schermerhorn. Forty-nine of 100 senators were present.
Minutes and agenda:
The minutes of
Report of the president: The president said the capital campaign is off to a good start, with some important early gifts from College alumni toward the goal of endowing financial aid. There has also been a significant gift to support neuroscience.
The president reported progress on the science facility to
be built at the northwest corner of the Morningside campus, with exciting
opportunities for interdisciplinary work. On top of extensive work carried out
over the last year and a half on intellectual content and function,
The president noted a recent report of hate graffiti on the campus. He expressed confidence that he was speaking for the Senate in condemning such behavior, which he said sullies and hurts the institution and everyone in it.
Report of the Executive Committee Chairman: Sen. Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS), the chair, summarized three main topics at the January 24 Executive Committee meeting.
--Senate-Trustee relations: Sen. Duby asked Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SS), chair of a subcommittee on Trustee relations whose roster was recorded in the minutes of the previous plenary meeting, to report briefly to the Senate.
Sen. O’Halloran said the issue of Senate-Trustee relations seems to reappear at 7-10-year intervals, and she hoped the subcommittee’s work could help to extend that interval, perhaps to 20 years. One main focus of the group is the question of access—how to increase the flow of information and exchange of ideas among Trustees, students, faculty and alumni. Another is the question of influence—how to implement existing, agreed-upon protocols established in a 1987 memorandum that grants the Senate a voice in Trustee deliberations.
Sen. O’Halloran listed five initiatives that the subcommttee is considering:
1. Establish a student affairs subcommittee of the Trustees Committee on Educational Policy and the State of the University, with student senators serving as the two Senate representatives, following the model of the links for several other pairs of parallel Senate and Trustee committees.
2. Consider designating a Trustee seat for a recently graduated alumnus. The exact nature of such a seat would be a subject for discussion.
3. Increase opportunities for students to interact with trustees, through arranged breakfasts or other social interactions. While something like this may be happening now, the arrangement needs more transparency, Sen. O’Halloran said.
4. Establish a set of protocols of interaction between the chairs of parallel Senate and Trustee committees. Sen. O’Halloran noted the extensive communication that Education Committee chair Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS) enjoys with the counterpart Trustee committee, an arrangement that might serve as a model for other committees. But these relationships are carried out in an ad hoc, not entirely consistent way. One improvement would be to invite a Trustee committee chair or representative to attend meetings of the counterpart Senate committee. It would help to share minutes and coordinate agendas, Sen. O’Halloran said, because a considerable amount of the work of the university is shared by the Senate and the Trustees, and each body could benefit from the fact finding and discussions of the other. A template and a routine for these protocols would be beneficial.
5. Finally, regularizing Senate participation on Trustees committees requires better implementation of the 1987 memorandum of understanding. Currently Senate participation is uneven at best, occurring when a Senate committee chair actively pursues information about meeting times, agendas, and so forth and so on. It is important to regularize this process so that senators automatically receive documentation and other basic information for Trustee committee meetings.
Another recent trend that has hampered the implementation of the 1987 agreement has been the increasing use of executive session for Trustee committee and plenary meetings, excluding Senate representatives. This trend may amount to a violation of that understanding, Sen. O’Halloran said. The Senate voice in Trustee deliberations can’t be heard if it isn’t allowed in the room, she said.
These issues will be on the agenda for a February 10 meeting between the Senate Executive Committee and a subcommittee of the Trustees’ Executive Committee. The preparation will include a comparative table that student members are compiling on participation of non-trustees in trustee deliberations at peer institutions.
Howard Jacobson, associate general counsel and the Senate paliamentarian, noted that
Sen. Sean Kelly (Stu., SEAS) said he had found a prohibition on the service of current faculty members on the board, but nothing barring students. Mr. Jacobson said he would provide the relevant documentation.
--Adding research officers to Senate committees: The Executive Committee had discussed the proposal, already approved by Structure and Operations, to add a research officer to each of six Senate committees. There was agreement that each affected committee should be consulted before the measure reaches the Senate. The Executive Committee decided to postpone consideration of adding a researcher to the Executive Committee roster until its next meeting.
In response to a question, Sen. Duby explained that he was not saying committees have a veto power over their composition, but he would like to hear comments from affected committees.
Sen. Bradley Bloch (Alum.) questioned the wisdom of including the detailed composition of Senate committees at the level of the By-laws and the Statutes.
Sen. Duby said detailed committee composition was part of the original setup of the Senate.
Mr. Jacobson said most groups include a comparable level of detail in their by-laws.
Sen. Kacy Redd (Stu., GSAS/NS) said such detailed enumeration may also serve to protect certain groups, who might otherwise be excluded.
--Student participation in the investigation of student complaints of classroom intimidation: Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee had requested some changes to a student resolution. Some revisions had been made, but there would be an opportunity for further amendments later.
Finally Sen. Duby noted the departure of Brian Pompeo, a student from Public Health, from the Executive Committee and the Senate. He asked the student caucus to nominate a replacement in time for the next Executive Committee meeting. He also noted the recent election of Amy Schoeman, a SIPA student.
--Update from the Senate Task Force on ROTC: Task Force co-chair
Sen. Applegate said the Senate had received a proposal to
restore ROTC from a
Sen. Applegate announced a February 15 town hall meeting on
the question of restoring ROTC. He said the group will also communicate this
information in a global
He said the task force expects to complete its work in a report to the Senate this spring.
Sen. Applegate said the list of topics the task force has
been discussing might seem obvious. One is the history of Naval ROTC at
Another issue, which Sen. Applegate considered secondary in the work of the task force, is the amount of campus space that an ROTC program would need.
Sen. Applegate listed other questions the task force has
considered, in no particular order: What are the effects (positive and
negative) of cadets in a classroom environment?
What is the current status quo arrangement for
Sen. Applegate said there are ROTC programs at some other
Ivy League institutions. He said the program at
Sen. Applegate said the question of the relationship between
the current version of the military policy excluding homosexuals (Don’t Ask
Don’t Tell) and
Sen. Applegate said this issue may have become less pressing after a Federal Appeals Court ruled in November that the Solomon Amendment is unconstitutional, because it violates the free-speech rights of institutions that oppose it.
The task force has also discussed justifications for having
Sen. Applegate concluded that the task force has not tried to come to consensus on any of these issues, concentrating for the time being on discussing them and educating itself. But the group will try to come to consensus in the weeks to come.
Sen. Ariel asked why the group has not come to consensus. Is it because the members all came in with open minds and are still figuring out what they think? Or is there another reason?
Sen. Applegate, speaking for himself, said the goal in forming the task force was to have every member begin with an open mind, and he thought this goal had been accomplished. He said reasonable people may disagree about a number of the issues he had listed. The task force may be able to reach compromise or consensus, despite strong feelings.
Another senator asked if ROTC programs require Don’t Ask,
Don’t Tell. Sen. Applegate said they do. An ROTC cadet, once under contract, is
considered part of the military and subject to the policy. The
Sen. Emmanuelle Henry (Stu., Law) asked if the task force had considered the possibility of guaranteeing financial support through the B.A. for cadets who decide in the course of their ROTC experience for whatever reason that they cannot complete the program.
Sen. Applegate said this was an interesting question, which
the task force had not considered. He
understood that it is possible for students who don’t want to serve in the
military to get out of ROTC. He said the military will not want Army officers
who don’t want to be Army officers. If
ROTC were to return to
Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., HS) noted, as he had at an
earlier meeting, that the
Sen. Applegate said he understood there are such scholarship
programs at the
Sen. Silverstein said that if the core issue is one of
Sen. Applegate thought such issues will prompt a spirited discussion in task force meetings in the next few weeks. He said Sen. Silverstein’s point was well taken.
Sen. Silverstein asked if one acceptable solution might be
Sen. Applegate said the mandate of the task force was to
consider ROTC, which is primarily an undergraduate program. The affected
schools would be
Sen. John Brust (Ten., HS) suggested that medical students with military scholarships, unlike ROTC cadets, may not actually be in the military while they are students, a difference that might change the effect of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Sen. Applegate said the task force does not have a mandate
to discuss the
Sen. Brust said it is still worth asking whether the University has already compromised its nondiscrimination principles by accepting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into one of its graduate schools.
President Bollinger summarized the current situation. He
said the present unfortunate reality is that Columbia does have a uniform
policy across the institution that prohibits discrimination based on sexual
orientation in placement policies, but it does allow U.S. government
institutions that say that they discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation
to make use of Columbia placement facilities on the same terms as institutions
that don’t discriminate in this way. The reason is that the Federal government,
the Defense Department, in recent years, has said that it will enforce its
interpretation of the so-called Solomon Amendment that Sen. Applegate had
mentioned—that all federal funds will be withheld from an institution that
refuses to allow equal access to placement facilities by any military branch of
the government. And
The president said
Sen. Jay Mohr (Ten., HS) suggested that
Sen. Applegate thought no one would disagree with a student’s right to pursue whatever career he or she chooses. But the ROTC, if Columbia hosts a program, would involve an affiliation between the university and a program that exists here, a considerably closer bond than would exist if someone simply graduated from Columbia College, and decided later to join the Army.
Sen. Mohr said students may not be able to join the Armed Services as officers if they aren’t properly prepared.
The president thanked Sen. Applegate for his report. He said the efforts of the task force, including the idea of open meetings, are the right way to address the question of ROTC.
--Update from the Research Officers’ Committee: Committee chairman Daniel Savin summarized the committee’s quest over the last three years for increased representation on six standing committees. He said adding one research officer to each of these committees would benefit the Senate by adding researchers’ complementary knowledge and experience. He said researchers, as senators, vote on resolutions that these committees bring to the floor. Shouldn’t they also take part role in drafting these resolutions by sitting on these committees?
Sen. Savin said that with a total of 6 research officer senators and three additional non-senators sitting on the Research Officers committee, researchers now have sufficient personnel to fill the additional seats that they are requesting.
Sen. Savin gave a brief profile of the Senate research
constituency. They are 1800 strong, ethnically diverse (29 percent Asian, 6
percent from the Indian Subcontinent, 5 percent Hispanic, 3 percent
African-American), 40 percent female and 60 percent male. Two thirds of research officers are based at
Health Sciences, with the rest on the Morningside, Lamont or
Sen. Savin summarized reasons for adding a researcher to each committee that are outlined in the proposal that had been distributed to the Senate.
--Executive: Researchers span the entire university and are directly affected by Senate activities. It is fitting, therefore, for them to be represented on the Senate’s committee on committees, setting the Senate’s agenda.
Researchers are the only Senate constituency involved in teaching students that
does not currently have a seat on Education.
They are involved in the teaching and training of undergraduates,
graduate students, and post-docs both inside and outside the classroom. They design new courses. Their experiences will provide Education with
a unique perspective on educational
innovations, specifically from the standpoint of an active researcher. Additionally Education is charged with
creating all new programs, departments and research institutes at
Review: The involvement of researchers in
--Structure and Operations: Researchers’ quest for a larger voice in Senate deliberations over the last several years has provided them with an understanding of the structure and operations of the Senate, which will be useful to the committee.
--Alumni Relations. Research officers participate in the education of the students, both inside and outside the classroom, and provide opportunities that help to foster loyalty and support for the university. They would like to join other constituencies (faculty and students) that share these concerns and currently sit on this committee.
--Rules: Currently researchers are the only Senate constituency without a seat on this committee. Since they are also governed by the Rules, they should have a seat on the committee.
Sen. Savin noted that Structure and Operations has approved the researchers’ proposal and passed it on to the Executive Committee. He said he would be pleased to meet with any of the affected committees.
Sen. Redd noted the similarities between researchers officers and faculty that Sen. Savin had identified. She asked what the main differences are.
Sen. Savin said researchers are supported entirely by soft money, and have to stay at the cutting edge of research to maintain their position. To laughter, he added hastily that he was not saying that faculty are not at the cutting edge.
Sen. Ariel asked why the Senate didn’t expand committee seats for researchers when it expanded their voting delegation
Sen. Savin said researchers had requested expanded committee representation as part of the proposal three years ago for more Senate seats and a researchers’ committee. He thought there may have been some skepticism about whether researchers were really a viable constituency that would continue to contribute to the Senate. Sen. Savin thought researchers have demonstrated that they are capable of meeting the responsibilities implied by additional Senate seats.
Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS) , chair of Education, expressed doubt that a large portion of the research constituency are involved in the kind of educational activities appropriate for membership on the Education Committee. She said the focus of researchers is properly research. She invited Sen. Savin to meet with Education.
Sen. Savin accepted the invitation. He asked Sen. Maya Tolstoy, a research scientist at Lamont, to comment on researchers’ teaching responsibilities there.
Sen. Tolstoy said this issue has been under discussion at Lamont for other reasons. She thought that at least half of the teachers in some important courses at Lamont are researchers. Moreover, all of the researchers at Lamont work extensively with graduate students, and she herself has taught courses. In addition, she said, many researchers are funded by the National Science Foundation, which now has an increasing responsibility for education outreach.
Sen. Moss-Salentijn asked for statistics on the amount of teaching researchers do. Sen. Tolstoy said she would provide data.
Sen. Penelope Boyden (Ten., HS) asked why the researchers had only requested seats on certain committees. Sen. Savin replied that researchers are already on all the other committees.
Sen. Tolstoy added that many researchers at Lamont have graduate students, but are not allowed officially to be their primary advisors. On paper they have no role, but in practice they are the people advising the students throughout the year. But that role is attributed to faculty.
--Resolution to include student members on future committees addressing academic freedom: Sen. Ariel, a student caucus co-chair, stressed that the resolution is not focused on any current effort to address complaints involving academic freedom, including the ad hoc faculty committee in the Arts and Sciences. He said that the University Senate is set up not to respond quickly to current issues, but to take a longer perspective in developing policies.
Sen. Ariel said the present resolution affirms the principle that students should be involved in developing procedures for grievances or discipline involving students, as they have been in the past. He cited the example of the Rules of Conduct. Another is the student grievance procedure established in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2003, which includes complaints involving academic freedom similar to the ones that are now in the news.
The resolution calls on students who have an issue with a professor to go to the professor first, then the chair of the department, and the dean, and to use all other available procedures. But if such steps don’t work in the future, there should be more than the present controversial ad hoc committee; there should be a standard procedure that includes students.
Sen. Ariel reviewed the resolution, noting the reference in the first whereas clause to a joint statement to the Senate by the Faculty Affairs and Student Affairs committees in December that quotes the principles of academic freedom presented in the University Statutes, and affirms their application to students as well as faculty. He said the resolution seeks to assure that students will be involved in the process in the future.
Another senator asked why the resolution is addressed to future procedures. Sen. Ariel said he personally would prefer to have students on the current committee, adding that an earlier draft of the resolution did not speak about the future. But the present A&S ad hoc committee has already been at work for several weeks. Adding students at this point would basically be calling for starting over again. He also doubted that the Senate is in a position to change the composition of a committee created within the Arts and Sciences. More in keeping with Senate’s role is the idea of creating a long-term procedure for the entire university.
Sen. Sean Kelly (Stu., SEAS) said a number of members of the student caucus and students in the various school councils want students involved in the present committee. But the authors of the resolution decided that this was not possible. The emphasis of the present resolution is to assure a future procedure in which both sides are integrated appropriately.
Sen. Silverstein raised the question of how the present resolution would affect ad hoc committees on misconduct, either of faculty in general or in the conduct of science.
Sen. Ariel said the resolved clause makes clear that the goal is to have students and faculty involved together in addressing student complaints about the classroom. It has nothing to do with faculty tenure review, or other kinds of complaints involving just faculty
Mr. Jacobson elaborated on Sen. Silverstein’s concern. When there’s an allegation that somebody has either committed plagiarism or fudged data in a research project conducted at the University, the subsequent investigation must be conducted according to federal rules that are implemented in procedures established by faculty. At Health Sciences the procedures include a preliminary inquiry, followed, if necessary, by investigation by an ad hoc committee created from Health Sciences faculty. He understood Sen. Silverstein to want to make sure that these procedures are exempt from the present resolution.
President Bollinger said this problem could be addressed by a phrase like “except where provided by Federal regulation.”
Sen. Ariel said such an amendment would be received as friendly.
Mr. Jacobson raised another issue: faculties at
President Bollinger made several points about the resolution. As a general proposition, he said, having students involved in committees is a very good idea. He himself had set up a number of search committees with significant student involvement.
He had no objection to the first or second whereas clauses of the resolution. He reminded senators that he has said publicly that academic freedom applies to students as well as faculty. He wasn’t as clear on the purpose of the third whereas, other than establishing that there are precedents in the University for committees with student members. While it was also true that that senior administrators have found current grievance procedures unsatisfactory, he was not sure it was necessary to say that.
He expressed several reservations about the next whereas clause. First, the current initiative involves not only him, but also the provost and the vice president for arts and sciences. He also objected to the explicit reference to the role of the David Project film, which may have played a role in some cosmic sense in current deliberations but should not be associated with the current effort, which really arose from conversations with students.
He also proposed deleting the next whereas clause, whose emphasis on impartiality and peer review as an important value for students as well as faculty did not seem to him to need saying.
The president had a couple of questions about the resolved clause. First, is the Senate legally capable of mandating the composition and form of a grievance procedure within a school or under a vice president of arts and sciences?
Mr. Jacobson thought not. The Senate can do no more than suggest in such a case.
The president asked if the Senate could say that any grievance procedure in any part of the university must meet certain criteria. Would every school be bound by that?
Sen. Duby mentioned the precedent of the sexual misconduct
policy, which was created by the Senate.
But it provided that any school could opt out of the policy; the
Mr. Jacobson said that condition followed from the fact that the discipline of each faculty, both pertaining to faculty members and students, is determined by that faculty, whose dean is in overall charge, subject to the powers of the president and the provost. The Trustees have the overall responsibility of governance of the University. They have adopted the Statutes of the University, which Mr. Jacobson described as the University’s permanent administrative law. It includes the rules of university conduct, which the Senate created. That precedent was adopted by the Trustees as a specific carve-out from the normal principle, which some people refer to as dean’s discipline. That was the legal background for the provision that schools could opt out of the university-wide sexual misconduct policy.
Sen. Waldron said the Senate certainly has the ability to form policy on these matters even if it doesn’t have the ability to mandate. He said it would be a trivial matter to amend this resolution so that it represents the Senate as forming a policy. He said the University Statutes specifically empower the Senate (in Section 23) to “work for the advancement of academic freedom and the protection of faculty interests” (clause c.), to “work for the promotion of student welfare and the enhancement of student life” (clause d.), and to “promulgate a code of conduct for faculty, students, and staff and provide for its enforcement” (clause i.). He objected to the impression left by Mr. Jacobson’s argument that the Senate is not in a position to form resolutions.
Mr. Jacobson didn’t disagree that the Senate could, if it wishes, say that such a committee should do this or do that, in each case. He said he might not have made that point clear.
Sen. Ariel expressed unease that someone was going to suggest postponing the resolution. He said proponents are prepared to strike whereases as needed, including the one referring to the David Project by name.
He stressed that a school-specific policy is inadequate to deal with the kinds of complaints that might come up, which might involve faculty members and students across the university, without separation into schools.
The president requested two clarifications: Was the resolution proposing that this be a policy mandated for every school, assuming that the powers of the Senate reach that far? And is the resolution seeking a University-wide grievance procedure?
In answer to the first question, Sen. Ariel said the proponents want a mandate, not just a recommendation. They want to make sure students are involved in creating the procedures and are on the grievance committees.
In answer to the second question, Sen. Ariel said the goal should be the creation of a university-wide grievance process. He said that confining grievance procedures within schools would fail to capture the range of grievances that might require investigation.
Sen. Waldron thought the issues about Senate jurisdiction could easily be solved with an additional whereas clause, referring to the Statutory language he had cited. He expressed annoyance that these Statutory provisions have to be quoted from the floor of the Senate and not by the Parliamentarian, who seemed to be bringing up ways to obstruct them. He said it is clearly within the Senate powers to make a resolution to this effect.
Mr. Jacobson apologized if he was being misunderstood as trying to obstruct. He said the Statutes make clear that if the Senate wants a University-wide mandate for all student grievance procedures, it has to seek Trustee approval, as it did with the Rules of University Conduct.
Sen. Ariel said he thought the question of whether his proposed procedure has to go to the Trustees is open to interpretation. Mr. Jacobson said section 25 of the Statutes makes clear the need for Trustee concurrence.
The president understood Sen. Walton to be saying that even if there is uncertainty about the scope of Senate powers in a mandate of this kind, the Senate can vote now if it wants, without resolving this question, incorporating these Statutory clauses by reference, and figuring out their reach later on.
Sen. Kelly emphasized that the resolution applies to new procedures, not ones that have been in place. He also didn’t see the need for Trustee action on the resolution.
There was uncertainty about whether the intent of the resolution was to establish a university-wide grievance procedure. Sen. Ariel asked what would be wrong with such a procedure.
The president said a university-wide procedure is an interesting idea that deserves serious consideration. But his recommendation was not to adopt the idea in haste at the present meeting. He knew students would interpret this suggestion as a delaying tactic that administrators have refined over many years. But he said such a proposal needs input from the various schools. The Senate could simply adopt the resolution, but then deans might be very upset. That would not be the best way to get people to buy into the idea of a university-wide grievance process.
The president said that if the scope of the resolution is the more modest one of shaping the new grievance procedure to be developed within the Arts and Sciences, then the appropriate form would be a recommendation rather than a mandate. He thought there would be receptivity to a recommendation that students should have a significant role (thought probably not an equal one) in developing the grievance process and a role on actual grievance panels. He said he would like to hear the reaction of the vice president for arts and sciences to such a recommendation.
The president anticipated concern among faculty because the student grievances under consideration touch on the content of teaching, and therefore on academic freedom. There may be some hesitancy about a procedure not connected to the self-governing process of each school.
Marsha Wagner, the ombuds officer, said that there is a clash between Section 23, outlining the Senate’s powers, and the portion of the Statutes that outlines the powers of the deans. It might be helpful to see both passages to clarify this. She thought that might be significant issues with school faculties over a procedure like the one proposed in the resolution. She added that university-wide policies would be useful on a number of issues, such as student plagiarism.
[AT THIS POINT THE LAST TAPE RAN OUT AND THE LAST TEN MINUTES OF DISCUSSION WENT UNRECORDED]
The president adjourned the meeting at around ,
Tom Mathewson, Senate staff